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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  October 11, 2014 6:00am-8:01am EDT

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imagine he was the man they contacted when they wanted to find a murderer for what was his name in long island? >> i'm not quite sure. who -- >> the guy who worked for the german shipping company, the german -- mr. conag. >> he worked for the hamburg-american lines, and he was a real brute of a man. he was the enforcer. the german-american line sort of ran the port of new york on the west side, the west side ports. and he took his whole crew of tough guys with him to work for germany. he received a great deal of the money that german ambassador had to spread, and tom tunney had to
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follow him around. ultimately, he gets the information on him and he discovers, he goes up to his apartment up by columbia university, and he has a secret diary where he's recorded in german and in english meticulous prussian fashion, how he superintends hspends his day, everyone he meets with, all the things he wants to do, that he's going to stop smoking, stop drinking, and by the way, i'm also going to place a bomb on this ship on such and such a date. his key operative are he gives code names to d-1, d-2, d-3. part of the story that i tell in dark invasion is how tunney and his men track down these various operatives once they have this code book and how they, too, have to break this code and find these people. >> yeah, fdr was undersecretary
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of the navy. he had his own private force of enforcement and investigators. i know that he was basically tracking down the immorality of the american naval people and he got censured by the congress for doing that, which wasn't thought of as that important. i'm wondering, when the war began, did he still maintain this investigatory squad -- squad, i would call them, or did that come at all into your -- >> no, it didn't. it does sort of come into the book i'm writing right now, which is a world war ii story where fdr is now president, and he's using his friends, really, jacob aster, and robert vanderbilt, they have a group of very well connected men who work out of a room that the vanderbilts own in a building on
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63rd street, and they're an informal spy network before america goes to war, trying to put the pieces together for fdr, before pearl harbor. >> you mention one of the german culprits, and you said that his father was a civil war hero. >> a medal of honor winner. >> right, and you said they were involved. was the father involved in this? >> the father was not involved. his brother and his sister were involved. the father died, but you know, you pick up the papers today, and the fear is that someone from isis will have an american passport, will be an american kid from detroit or wherever and he's now going to work with the enemy and he'll be able to go right through security because he's an american. there's no way to stop him. well, that's what the germans
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did. they got -- and tom dillinger, who was an american citizen, had an american passport, was able to come here, didn't have to travel under an assumed name and was able to bring with him in a little medical bag, the cultures for anthrax, and he set up this covert lab six miles from the white house. >> right. you mentioned the film that was made. i think i vaguely remember seeing it, just for nostalgia purposes, do you remember the stars, who was starring in that? >> the film i was referring to is the film that is going to be made of my book. >> i think there was something similar maim. >> nothing similar, no way. >> somebody was exploding certain things on ships during wartime. >> this will have bradley cooper dashing about very excitedly. >> it wasn't wartime, thank you. >> hello.
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you talked about what has been done by this particular network. what's your interpretation, how effective this was? because obviously, this is an act that brought us into war against the germans with devastating effect. >> yes. you raise also a very good point. many ways, while it was effective in the shortterm, in that it stopped supplies going to europe, it resulted in deaths of about 100 americans, tens of millions of dollars of damage. but in many ways, it lost the war. it was a very narrow strategy for germany because it got the united states into the war. it energized the united states. i mean, what our enemies think today, they think if they blow up the world trade center, we're going to be cowards and we'll
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back down and a muslim caliphate will go up and america will be overwhelmed. they don't understand the american character. the american character has a real streak of don't tread on me. and this energized america. >> i have a second question. have you looked into the covert operations that the british were undertaking in america at the same time to get us into the war? i mean, they weren't exactly, you know, hands off. they put a massive propaganda and covert operation activity into getting us into the war. >> from what i have been able to discover, britain was very active in world war ii, before
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the united states was in the war. rockefeller center, they set up the british security coordination units. and that was really a propaganda operation and a spy operation. they ran british spies here in the united states. many of them with the knowledge of j. edgar hoover and people in our government, to try to help bring us into the war. in world war i, they weren't that organized in the sense. they had a man who was running things under the cover of a film executive, and he was trying to get propaganda out. they had a former naval captain, guy gaunt, who was a member of mi-6, and he was based here in wall street, and he was in communication with arthur wood and tunney, and he was providing information. at that point, the federal government was so eager to get information that they needed the british help. america might not have discovered for another two years
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really what was going on, that this was a german plot against america, if the british hadn't passed on the information they had gotten from breaking the german codes. but sure, britain was determined to get the united states into the war, and they succeeded, and they were effective in doing it, in both wars. >> yes, i don't understand the relationship between bombing the capitol building and then trying to assassinate jp morgan jr. in what sounds like a very amateur assassination attempt. why would he, you know, one day bomb the capitol, and then -- i just don't understand the logic of it? >> well, the logic was one of terror. and terror has no logic. in the sense the germans had this man who was their patsy. they could tell him what to do, and if he wanted to put a bomb
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in the u.s. capitol building, he thought that would excite things and cause terror, they provided him with the weapon. they said, let's see what happens. he's not one of our professionals. we have a hands-off relationship with him. and then they could use him, this sort of guided weapon, to get jp morgan. if it works, great. if it doesn't work, we'll see what happens next. >> he had an american wife, lived here. can you tell us about why these people didn't get or have american citizenship? what kind of issue that was in those days. >> he was a member of the german government. he was a german ambassador to the united states. he married -- he was here for 11 years. he was actually born in london. his father was the german ambassador of britain, and he
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grew up in a very rarefied atmosphere in britain and germany and then here in the united states. one of their big scams that he runs when he first comes to the united states is making phony passports for people so german sailors interred here can go back to europe and fight for germany. at that point, passports were pretty easy to get. you just send in to the secretary of state, i think he signed them all himself, and they would hire drunks from the bowery and have them pose for these passports and give them to the german sea mmen until those plots were uncovered. >> i read your book, i enjoyed it. i read it in one day. >> thank you. >> though it's more than 400 pages. what i wonder is how the germans could be so stupid.
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they said trust this probably psychotic psychopath to kill jp morgan, and they're not afraid just by hiring this guy, they're going to end up in a war with the united states, which i don't think was inevitable. at least they had to keep it up as long as possible. why were the germans so stupid and in a sense naive. >> i think they were naive and desperate. you could look, why hire lee harvey oswald. was he a lone gunman or recruited by some other country. would you hire someone who had gone to live in the soviet union who was so -- such a strange temperament to say the least? it's very similar. people in intelligence agencies don't make the wisest decisions sometimes, but it almost worked. jp morgan jr. was severely wounded. eric munter managed to get into his house. he managed to evade the authorities who were looking for him for over a decade for
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murdering his wife. he had a very successful spy. >> yes. i wouldn't say the germans were that stupid. but first of all, von pappen is a three-tiered operation going on. you're trying to prevent munitions ships going through, and taken out morgan wasn't a bad idea because he's tied with the british, who are critical, and getting shot twice, they nearly succeeded. but there's also what you haven't mentioned is the indian conspiracy. from punjab in particular and also the irish connection, too. all under von pappen, as i said it. he was indicted later on, but he got away with it because he was canceler. you know, the incitement of rebellion in ireland and in india, i mean, the home base seems to be new york.
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oddly, it's a safe haven. it's not a bad idea what they're trying to do. obviously, it kind of backfired a bit, but what they initially were trying to do made perfect sense. >> the home base, from my understanding, would have been berlin. and water nicholai sent out all his agents, pulling as many strings as he could. he was trying to create confusion as best he could all over the globe, in ireland, india, and in new york. jp morgan was key. under jp morgan, this consocm was put together that raised $900 million, 1915 dollars, for the allies. and with him gone, the consortium would have fallen apart. and for a while, it looked like he was severely wounded, but he did recover. and if the gun hadn't jammed after the two bullets had
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entered his abdomen, he might have succeeded and been killed and history might have been different. >> just a point of information for one of your other answers, the british security coordinating commission, which was led by sir william stevenson, who was canadian, whose wife was american, did not have as his primary objective to bring america into the waurb. it was coordinating espionage activities with actually colonel dawnivonovan and with the peopl fdr. >> i would respectfully disagree with you. stevenson mandate, as was given to him and as they made clear in the proviso of the british security coordination unit, was to bring america into the war. after america goes to war, then they're working more hand in hand with donovan. but before that, it came from
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really, they had a different agenda. >> we disagree, both of us. okay. >> you have a nice bibliog rfy. how did you get your hands on this stuff and could you have done it 10, 20 years ago? >> i was raising my kids 10, 20 years ago, but so much -- one of the things that is interesting to me when i try to tell these stories, and talking about what i have done. i did a book on the uconn gold rush about a detective. i did a book called "american lightning" about the bombing of the l.a. times. these are sort of history that are true stories yet they're written with drama and suspense. the way to do this is you have to be able to tell what the characters are thinking. i look for subjects where there are diaries, where there are memoirs, actual people who talked about what they did so i can say what's on their mind.
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tunney wrote a book called "throttle "about his career as a policeman, so i'm able to say what he felt about it. all this information is out there. the internet makes it really easy. you can sit in a room and pull up all these books right on your screen and read them, and it's like being brought back to the times themselves. so it's all out there. it's finding a way of putting it together, finding the characters who will drive you through this narrative. >> one of the little things you haven't talked about today is the rutter bomb, which i found fascinating. >> that was another ingenious device. and it was used against allies, shipping. what happened was a german engineer was on the front in europe, in france, and the shells are falling. he thinks to himself, i've got to get out of here, how can i
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get out of the front? it's too dangerous. i'm not going to survive this war. so here's an engineer by training, and he comes up with this device, which he then is able to show to the intelligence officer of his unit, makes its way to berlin, sent to the united states, and it's a rutter bomb. it attaches. you go onto, underwater to a ship in port. you attach this little bomb to the rutter, and it gets charged up, as the man steers the boat out of the harbor, he's putting the fuse into the bomb. and it explodes when it goes out of sea. that's the rudder bomb. he worked out of a boarding house in new jersey, and tunney and his men track him down. >> i'm going to assume that the germans knew about the
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academics' real identity and not just his new identity? >> it's an interesting question. i would like to think they did, but one never knows. i mean, the man was all over the place. and i think they saw that here's a chance where we can take this guy who is out of control. we can pull the strings, but we can pull them from a distance and send him out and have him do our bidding, but we won't get the blame. because what they were doing, you know, if germany was involved in the assassination of jp morgan, that would have brought the united states into war. that's why he had to be eliminated. that's why there's been -- when my book came out, the dallas morning news did -- this is lee harvey oswald all over again. they said that's why oswald had to be eliminated, because we couldn't really trace back to whom he was really working for. there are many mysteries that haven't been solved yet.
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>> i have a question about how the germans chose their agents. one has the impression of people coming to the german embassy and knocking on the door and saying i want to work for germany. how did they sort through these people? how did they know some of them weren't double agents? how did they pick and choose? because i'm planning my own second career, and planning to work for an unnamed foreign power. >> what happened many times was, this was a german club on central park south, and the german military attache and the naval attache would hold court there and people would come up to them at night. when word got out von ritlin was working under a pseudonym at
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wall street, people would come to his office. he would see in the course of a day, 20, 30 people who have fantastic schemes. most of them he would send away, but every now and then, he would find someone who had something to offer. that's how he found the cigar bomb. so they didn't really worry about double agents because america wasn't that sophisticated yet, but they worried about crack pots, people who would give things away, who would really be caught and then spill the beans. >> there was a strange transition between 1918 to 1920 leading to palmer raids where a lot of these agents who were formally working for the german government started to work for the soviet as communists. and apparently die-hard communists. but there is -- it is very odd
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that it's particularly down in lower manhattan, that's where it all seemed to come to fruition. >> well, that's where the power was. that's where wall street was and where the germans set up their bases and where the hamburg-american line set up their headquarters and where they rented the offices. and as you say, after world war ii, the german agents also went off and worked for other nations, too. and after the fall of the berlin wall, the east german agents did the same. >> with all of these things you talked about, all these plans, these nefarious plans, et cetera, it finally ended up with the zimmerman telegram real disaster for the germans when it's intercepted by the british and then, you know, they're trying to convince the mexicans to come in against the united states so they can have, you know -- it's -- and it reminds me of some of the stuff that, you know, other powers including
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ourselves have done. some really nitwit things. where did they get -- where is the mintal thing on some of this? you don't want to irritate some of these major powers? where do the mental ideas come -- >> far be it for me to get in the mind of what makes a spy master think he can convince mexico to go to war against the united states and it's going to work, but history has also taught us a great deal of arrogance of the people in power and they think -- arrogant people think they can do whatever they want. they can change the course of history. and sometimes they do. thank you very much. [ applause ] each week, american history tv's reel america brings you archival films to help tell the story of the 20th century.
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>> they had improved knowledge of the soviet union, but the critical questions went unanswered. >> begin. >> on 10 august, 1960, the diagnostic flight was ready for launch. at the time diskorver 13 was launched, a number of major problems remained to be solved. achieving an acceptable orbit, operating the camera, and the all-important recovering of the payload film. >> by function only. >> on my mark, it will be t minus 5 seconds. mark.
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>> it quickly revealed that 13
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did achieve orbit, and the initial position was correct. on the 17th orbit, the recovery pack package descended normal except for missing by 13 miles. although beyond the range of recovery aircraft, 13's capsule splashed down near enough for water recovery. for the first time ever, man had
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eastern on c-span. c-span's 2015 student cam competition is under way. this nationwide competition for middle and high school students will award 150 prizes totaling $100,000. create a five to seven-minute documentary on the topic the three branches and you. videos need to include c-span
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programming, show varying points of view, and must be submitted by january 20th, 2015. go to for more information. grab a camera and get started today. next, a look at american and soviet spies during the cold war. as new information is declassified by the cia and fbi, researchers have been able to re-evaluate the lines and legacies of cold war spies including whittaker chambers, morton sobell, and morris childs. good afternoon. and welcome to our panel, which is entitle d "the dueling loyalties of cold war era spies of the united states government and the soviet union."
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my name is katie sibley and i teach history at st. joseph's university in philadelphia. it's my pleasure to be here. i have never been at a society for history and the federal government meeting before and it's such a treat and thank you for having me and all of us. and thank you, john, for recommending this conference for us to apply to. so good afternoon and welcome to the spy panel at the conference. we feel a little cheeky here because we're actually publicly consorting with representatives of the government agencies our characters spied on. but first, let me introduce our three speaker. we begin with david chambers. he's an independent historian who specializes in early 20th century espionage in the united states with special interest in his grandfather, whittaker chambers. his correspondence has appeared in the timeses literally supplement, history network, and salon. his interviews he has been involved in have been featured in the american conservative and australia's national observer magazine, and his book reviews
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have appears in the intelligencer magazine and the washington times. he's spoken at the off broadway premiere of can you hear their voices? which was a play based on his grandfather's 1931 short story from the new masses. he received a master's degree from georgetown university school of foreign service and a bachelors with distinction from the university of virginia. he speaks arabic and persian. our second speaker is jason roberts. jason d. roberts is the history government instructor at convincy college. he's written on soviet espionage and mccarthyism. most recently, he completed an essay on calvin coolidge's election. i have to stay tuned for that, to be coming up later this year. he received his ph.d. from george washington university in
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2007. john fox, our third speaker, is the fbi historian since 2003. he was awarded a ph.d. in modern amayse american history and a masters in political science from boston college in 1993. his carticals have appeared in the journal of strategic security, the journal of judgment information, the journal of cold war studies. he has contributed numerous pieces to the fbi's website including a guide to conducting research in fbi publications. also, canada and the beginnings of the cold war, and vaults, masks, and mirrors, rediscovering u.s. counterintelligence and also mentioned in the companion on the legacy of the wilsonian in the 1920s. he's also been involved in an exhibit on the fbi in the museum
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since june of 2008 and appeared on many documentaries on c-span, cbs sunday news, cnn, and turner classic movies. please join me in welcoming our first speaker, david chambers. >> good afternoon. my name is indeed david chambers and i confess here and now that i am a grandchild of whittaker chambers, the subject of my paper. due to time constraints, i'll jump straight in and start by laying to rest that the case is a sideshow. when compared to chambers' earlier spy work for two chief
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reasons. first, no proof exists that any of the group's ten former federal members in the later 1930s stole major secrets or effected major shifts in u.s. policy. second, i argue today that washington's representative side branch of the global network of soviet intelligence in which chambers' own role was small, but which as a network was more crit cool to his life's story, particularly in terms of his thinking and the long term impact of his written thoughts. so what happened before the case that was so important? in a nutshell, during 1934-1935, chambers worked to set up spy cells in tokyo and london. these cells were, in my assessment, some of the final links made bysoeveriate gre sov illegals to complete a spy network. they overlapped with two of the
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greatest successes in .. cell, the second was the london cell of the cambridge five. in witness, his 1952 memoir, chambers left us the names of people and places in the soviet global network, and i treat them as clues. by adding details known today, i'm flushing out these clues into a fuller story. so let me start with chambers' version of the story. according to witness in mid-1932, whittaker chambers received orders to join soviet intelligence or in his terms to enter the soviet underground. first he received training in espionage technique from john sherman, a colleague at the daily worker in the 1920s. then he performed minor spy tasks, an early residence for soviet handlers i marken and
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ulinovski. he received orders to set up a cell in london. for cover, he was to set up a foreign branch of the literary agency of maxim lieber. some of his clients may ring bells today. john cheever, theodore driezer, langston hughes, and thomas wolff. however, for reasons unknown, london fizzled out after a few months, and as it did, chambers received another assignment, still in 1934. he was to help his old comrade set up another cell. this one in tokyo, again with help from lieber. as cover, the trio came up with a fake new syndicate under the the literary agency and started signing up news clients like the new york post. for news lead or perhaps for more covert reasons they met a shanghai based american journalist then visiting new
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york. sherman arrived in tokyo, he seemed to have achieved little. there is no english language public record, for instance, of any of his spy activities. suddenly, chambers heard the german cell was compromised. he closed down the syndicate's new york cell overnight, and he received a summons to moscow. chambers never expected to hear from him again. now, in witness, chambers spends considerable time discussing the great purge in general, including some rather startling imagery. like jack rabbit hunts. he writes, the great purge was in the most literal sense a massacre. it was like one of those western jack rabbit hunts in which a whole countryside forms a vast circle that finally closes in on its victims and clubs them to death. the purges like the rabbits had no possible chance to escape.
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they were trapped, arrested, shot, or sent to a slave labor camp on which the nazis modeled their camps, substituting gas for forced starvation, hard labor, or undoctored disease. continuing the rabbit hunting motif, hoe continues on the feat of soviet intelligence, suddenly, revolutionists with a lifetime of devoted activity would pop out like rabbits in a borough. not that rice fled, chambers wrote. instead, a brave and lonely man, he sent his single-handed defiance to stalin. but defiance was not enough. cunning is needed to fight cunning. it was foredoomed that sooner or
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later, a door of a car would stop and rice would tumble out. it happened shortly after he deserted. the fact that chambers recounts his disallusionment in communism by discussing the great purge seems like a clue to me. a clue because the issue i have with witness is not whether it is highly accurate but that it is a remarkably incomplete document full of clues. today, i begin the process of filling in the clues and completing the further story they can tell. one missing thing in witnesses rather academic, the definition of soviet intelligence. chambers calls it the soviet underground. moments, he mentions at least
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three components. the kgb, handled internal opposition. the gou, external military threats. and the worldwide revolution. the names have changed over the years so please note i'm using those most currently known today. these are old maps like the ones chambers grew up with in world war i. so if we were to start mapping chambers' story, we'd start at new york, and add tokyo. and add london. and then keblconnect them in a network. but any soviet map would start from moscow center. so here's moscow. and the map facing the soviets at the outset of their regime was anything but calm. and settled. in early 1918, wherever it turned in the russian civil war, moscow faced war from the north, south, east, and particularly
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the west. by 1920, the red army aided by the gru, had taken control of most border areas. the kgb helped maintain order by means of the red terror and by august 9020 as poland cut in half the invading army, communist uprising in europe were failing, eviscerating the chief role that stall stalin wo terminate officially. so the soviets turn their eyes toward china. already in 1923 into china, the gru had sent a man as political adviser to head soviet support. there, he helped establish the peasant training institute. he also established the one polar military academy.
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his death in 1925 crippled china, and boradine back ed tha which was crashed in the shanghai massacre, and yes, the falling object is the man's head in the photo. he fled china, and moscow controlled neither. after losing their initial position, the soveulate iets tr bolster themselves in shanghai. one of his gru agents was sorga. american journalist agnes smedly who had arrived in shanghai introduced sorga to a japanese journalist soon to be sorga's top collaborator in tokyo. in september 1931, japan invaded northern china. under the last chinese emperor.
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in november 1931, m they established outside the control of josef stalin. by the time chambers had joined the underground, the soviets had lost china and feared japan. now, in comparison to the east, soviet russia's western borders were relatively quiet in the '20s. new and existing nations were developing as best they could in the aftermath of world wear i. a gau agent worked all over europe in that period, aided by a childhood friend and others. rice was based first in ukraine, and then vienna, then berlin. and by 1927, rice had received the order of the red banner, then the highest soviet honor, though his wife's memoir is unclear as to specifically why,
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and after three years back in moscow, he arrived in paris around 1933 where he worked in parallel with a soviet pr journalist -- i'm sorry, i jumped ahead. among other duties, he cleaned up his messes like the shanghai-based affair that was set off in part by agnessmedly. one of his residents in new york handled chambers. in the latter 1930s when chambers was running the group, he later reported directly to rice in europe in the 1940s. january threatened to make 1933 a disaster for soviet intelligence worldwide. that's because on january 30th, 1933, adolf hitler became chancellor of germany. the very next day, the german communist party found itself
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outlawed and its members hunted down. while it may be true that the soviets shed few tears to see their older rival german communist party outlawed, hitler also ruined the soviet center for passport falsification which was based in berlin and thus crippled soviet intelligence. in august 1933, sorge traveled west through moscow, through berlin, paris, new york, vancouver, and by september 1933, he arrived in tokyo, activating his gru cell. shortly after april 1934, arnold deutsche, another soviet spy originally from vienna, arrived in london. deutsche focused on recruiting english students who could later distance themselves from youthful communism and enter careers in government, including british intelligence.
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on january '34, he met the first of the cambridge five. the stage was nearly set by mid-1934, with sorge in tokyo and deutsche in london, each developing the capabilities of the respective cells as part of soviet intelligence's global spy network. then, on november 16th, 1933, a near miracle occurred. to counteract a year otherwise of disaster for soviet intelligence. our federal government resumed full diplomatic relationships with the ussr after a hiatus of nearly a decade and a half. this opened normal channels of espionage to the soviets in the states like use of grounds for headquarters, standard operations for intelligence agencies. that meant the gru could use new york to circle back on london
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and tokyo. shortly thereafter, they received orders to open the london cell and sherman his orders for tokyo. so what does this all add up to? my research indicates to me that in 1934 '1935, the gru used chambers and sherman to create doubled links to tokyo and london. as soon as new york could serve as moscow's counterpoint, the gru moved quickly to build fail-safe redundancies into its global network and covered two of its most critical points of concern. that said, both fail-safe redundancies failed. but the primary cells marched onward, and the global network itself was left in tact, and that's what counted to the soviets. in tokyo, 1941, sorge was able
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to warn starlin of plans for the german invasion of russia. in london, the cambridge five were active far longer than sorge. by 1940, they seemed to learn that a defector had spoken with mi-5 about soviet spies in the u.k., and while his ignorance of the cambridge five names probably saved them, but their knowledge of his name seemed to insure his assassination. in 1949 in the hiss trials, three of the five were stationed in washington and may have shaped information that passed through them to mi-5 about the hiss case as well as other sensitive matters like atomic espionage. this represents condensed highlights of some of my
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findings. my primary finding is that witness remains a highly informative, reliable source of details on soviet espionage in america in the 1930s, notable not for its inaccuracies but for its incompleteness. this paper begins the process of documenting and tracing this incompleteness through clues in the text. my second finding, which i do not have time to explain here and now is these findings of chamber's experience in the global network of soviet great illegals calls for great reassessment of chambers' career, his writings, and thus his impact, the impact of his writings on conservatives and ultimately on the partisan debate or lackthereof that continues from his time to the present. i would like to thank the family members of marsha moody who have helped me, to those with whom i have not been in touch, i hope
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this presentation encourages you to contact me, easily done through the website. my purpose is not to name names or to blame but to uncover and reconstruct the covert past. thank you to my chair and co-panelists as well as to the society for history and the federal government for having me here today. thank you. >> i wanted to thank fhg for inviting us here and katie sibley for putting this panning
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together. my paper focuses on the rosenberg grand jury, a transcript, in 2008, martin sobell, after years of consistent denial, abruptly confessed to spying for the soviet union. what caused him to dramatically change his story? although the death of his wife factored into his decision, his confession was also influenced by the release of the rosenberg grand jury records that same year, actually the same day of the records publicly released. what information in these records compelled sobell to change his story? two themes related to sobell are clear in reading the rosenberg grand jury transcripts. first, sobell's family members were hostile and uncooperative winces before the grand jury. repeatedly, they were warned to tell the truth or face an indictment for perjury. second, sobell's at the company where he worked as an electrical engineer on
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classified projects with the air force, made clear he had access to classified information as well as the opportunity to steal that information. the grand jury for the judsouth district of new york heard testimony from august 1950 to march 1951. key people concerned sobell's flight to mexico in the summer of 1950. aware of the arrest of david greenglass, sobell, his wife and children fled to mexico in 1950. a month later on august 16, 1950, sobell an his family were kidnapped in mexico, aconsidereding to some accounts by mexican thugs, and taken to the u.s. border where they were arrested by u.s. authorities. one of the issues before the grand jury was whether or not family members knew of sobell's plans to flee and whether or not they knew he fled to mexico. if the grand jury supervised by
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assistant attorney for the southern district of new york miles lane who also, by the way, in addition to being an assistant attorney was also a member of the nhl hall of fame. he played for the boston bruins and new york rangers. so tough guy. you don't want to mess with him. so they were looking for cooperation. they were bitterly disappointed. for example, martin sobell's wife, helen, frequently took the fifth amendment. when asking how many children she had, she plead the fifth amepdment. when asking if she was speaking with her sister, who at this time lived with mortin and helen. like wise, she took the fifth when she was asked if she knew a classmate and friend of mortin sobell. the grand jury was aware that
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danningiser agreed to mail letters to his family when he was in mexico. the grand jury repeatedly expressed skepticism or the testimony of mortin's mother, rose. they were especially unconvinced by the claim she did not know her son fled to mexico. why, they ask, did she and her husband pay their son's rent if they thought he was just gone for a short vacation. the grand jury could not believe that a parent would not express an interest in the whereabouts of their son. as a mother with such a devoted son, you weren't interested in knowing where he was, queerried the foreman of the grand jury. mortin sobell's father, lewis sobell, was an even more hoss file witness. he was repeatedly warned to tell the truth or face indictment for perjury. the queries about whether he knew his son was in mexico, he responded. how i do know he was in mexico. you are being too reluctant chieted lane. lane also reported sobell to
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answer questions truthly. you are under oath and subject to penalties of perjury. at one point sobell warned the grand jury not to push him because he had high blood pressure and a bad heart. sobell's sister-in-law edith denied she helped sobell escape or knew of his whereabouts after he left new york. she said she did not know sobell and her sister left for mexico until the next day, especially because she was living with them at the time. the grand jury warned hr to tell the truth or face indictment. lane informed her that the grand jury may indictment you for perjury. they informed her they may have eyewitnesss such as a friend that saw her drive sobell and his wiefb helen, to wife, helen airport. i don't think four or five people can be wrong about who drove someone to the airport.
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also may be wrong about paying the rent since he was on vacation. do you know your brother-in-law is in very bad trouble. fbi files which indicate communication with lane, had shown that he saw sobee the night he left and that he drove to the airport with edith. danningser still alive in 2008 refused per hig to release his grand jury testimony. he has since died as of 2012. the fbi account is interesting of his testimony because dansinger's wife, was repeatedly criticized by lane who called her an uncooperative witness.
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edith's brother, david, could not explain why he was opening mail addressed to his sister and from his other sister, helen. the grand jury thought it was suspicious that he would open his sister's mail. one grand juror remarked it was quote an unusual family where family members opened each other's mail. lane said, quote, his story doesn't add up. you are stio in danger of being indicted for perjury it is not even funny. so his aunt continued the trend of being uncooperative. consistently being evasive as to whether or not they knew the whereabouts of sobell when he fled in the summer of 19 a. pasternak, for example, repeatedly side the fej amendment when asked by the grand jury where she was employed. a grand juror appealed for her to reveal her place of employment asergt quote you have been working there for 18 years
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and that can't be kept a secret. at another point she excited the fej amendment when asked if she provided mortin sobell with money after he fled to mexico. during her first appear unbefore the grand jury, she took the fifth when asked if she saw a note that sobell sent from mexico. her husband morris asserted the fifth amendment when asked if he last visited sobell and the last time he heard from sobell. lane expressed anowance during his testimony. don't you try ipt rupt me he informed pasternak. i have seen those tactics before and lane, one of my faf rif quotes, hostile, unamerican, and as i see it, pro communists. the grand jurors were not pleased with pasternak's testimony. why don't you cooperate asked one grand juror. another grand juror informed pasternak he was quote making a very unfavorable impression. so sobell other uncle who ran the communist camp unity in new
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york repeatedly cited the fifth when asked if he was a member of the communist party or had any associations with the communist party. even more damning evidence against sobell came from supervisors and coworkers at the reed enstrumt company. it is clear from their testimony that sobell had access to classified information. sobell's supervisor at reed instrument company and president of the company harry belock noted that sobell had access on information marked confidential and secret. he informed the grand jury that the fbi agents had come to him with allegations that so bell was a communist that might be spying for the soviet union. testifying that he had recommended against firing sobell instead recommending a close watch be kept on him and at the last time saw sobel is before he took vacation to watch the pga tournament in june 1950. to each his own in entertainment. he had admitted that he waited
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to inform the fbi of sobell's absence even though another company official chief security officer henry aldrich was eager to notify the fbi under questioning belock acknowledged that another employee is under surveillance. the name is excised in the grand jury testimony. he testified that he received a letter from sobell which he claimed to have lost. parts of belock's testimony are puzzling. for example, why not fire sobell after the fbi came to him. or at left confront him with the allegation. why did he notify the fbi about sobell departure. what happened to the let are that he received from martin sobell. grand jury records don provide a satisfactory answer to the questions. the records, however, do indicate that one of belock's coworkers believe he was sympathetic to the communist party and allegedly heard him brag that his sister was a
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communist party member. sobell's immediate supervisor edward garrett testified there is no indication that sobell was sick or that he was going on vacation before june 16, 1950, the date in which he did not show up for work. garrett testified that he called sobell on june 16, june 19 and june 21st. on june 16th sobell informed him that he was ill and would be back to work on june 19th. garrett said when sobell did not show up for work after a few days that he went to belock and informed him that sobell was sick. when sobell did not pair on the 26th he talked to belock again about sobell. according garrett, belock showed him a letter in which he said he was taking a long vacation. garrett testified he was surprised to hear this as he thought sobell was ill and would be returning to work soon. garrett also testified that sobell's wife came to him after
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the arrest of her husband, appealing to garrett to help raise money for sobell's bail. garrett informed the jury he was kept cal of helen sobell's explanation and went to mexico because of her husband's health. because that's where we all go when we have health problems. garrett said the best way of surviving his health would have been to take care of him at home instead of traveling to mexico. the comptroller at reed's instrument company ross merit testified it was difficult to establish a paper record of sobell's whereabouts because often he did not record his time in the office and was unusually paranoid about a paper trail. he basically said that sobell could be at any one of four places at any given time and they wouldn't know. samuel when vine, whoe worked on
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classified projects, worked at the instrument company and was a classmate at city college new york. testified that sobell had access to classified information. and that belock was naive about the sobell and testified that when he knew sobell at ccy he had radical tendencies. and le vine said he could access material of a coworker that sat next to him. le vine testified that quote i thought it was possible this our project might have been compromised by his, sobell, having been there. unlike many of the grand jury witnesses, le vine was a very cooperative witness. he testified for example that he knew julius rose enburg and william pearl, to subjects of the grand jury investigation. unlikesome of the witnesses, le vine never invoked the fifth amendment. fbi files indicate that the fbi found le vine to be a reliable
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and cooperative witness with no ties to the communist party. sobell's coworker says that most of the work conducted by sobell was marked confidential or secret and that it was possible to walk in and take classified material if you had a clearance. he is answered yes to the question, you mean can you just walk in and take papers out? admitted that he had at times gone directly to the files that he needed. to a question of security of the files, he responded quote, no, there is no one standing there guarding the files. he admitted that it was possible that sobell wlos desk was next to his could have looked at filed on his desk. say con adequately explain how sobell had a document from june 1950 if sobell was not seen after june 16, 1950. what can we conclude about
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sobell case from rosenburg grand jury spot. first, his family members were not convincing witnesses before the grand jury. they came across as witnesses that tended to lie, be evasive or assert the fifth amendment. in reading through the transcripts, you feel frustrated in reading their testimony, especially the relative's, because they are not answering basic questions like lawrence pasternak refusing to tell the grand jury, where do you work. even though they say, you know, we have your social security card. you know we have your tax records. why don't you tell us where you work. the reaction of miles lane and grand jurors had less than fruitful testimony to anger frustration they were obstructing the investigation. second, sobell's coworkers offer
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compelling testimony that he possessed access to classified materials. equally persuasive with the testimony of harry b.watt, and samuel le vine and showing that sobell had the opportunity to steal classified information. so you know, in addition motive, he had the means. despite the flaws of the government's investigation into the rosenburg case which is well documented, the grand jury records demonstrate that government possessed a strong case against mortin sobell ppt grand jury records reinforced evidence from the vicinity of note o books and soviet handler. it is clear that the grand jury was correct in indicting mortin sobell for espionage and federal government was correct in convicting him of the same charge in 1951.
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good afternoon. i share the gratitude of my colleagues, and thank you for this opportunity. up like david and jason, i'm going to talk about one of our spies, one of the people who worked on the u.s. government and spied on the soviet union and in this paper today, the chinese government. during the cold war. so i'm going to look at it from the other end. it's been more than 40 years since christopher andrews noted that intelligence missing dimension of american foreign policy history and of course much good work has been done on
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that, especially on the side of identifying and explaining in a sense those soviet agents who targeted the united states. but what i'd like to do, as i mentioned, is talk about one of our agents, an fbi. which s which is unusual. we don't usually think of fbi with foreign intelligence. but in this case, the fbi had a unique opportunity. and it began because -- it began because, of course, we were interested in the do memestic activities of the united states. i will set the stage a little bit. talk a little bit about what was going on in the late 1940s, early 19 50s. and i will talk about the role
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that he played as a double agent for the fbi. but what i'd like to specifically do, and of course, i'm doing this in part because, you know, over the years, last couple of years the fbi released several thousand pages on morris childs and what is called operation solo. which is kind of ironic, because operation solo refers not only to morris, but to his brother, jack. so there were two agents. not one agent. and they weren't working solo. they were working closely with a number of fbi people as well. so solo itself doesn't describe the operation at all. but morris was a tremendous asset giving us information about the communist party of the soviet union, communist party of china. about cuba. czechoslovakia. the whole world of the iron
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curtain. the intelligence was unique because of his access to the leaders of those countries and the communist parties of those countries. so what i want to talk specifically about, is what solo, operation josolo tells us about one aspect of politics. this is the final soviet split, about the bilateral relations between china and soviet reunion. specifically focussing on one here at a time. around 1958 which is when morris makes his first overseas mission. largely because, this is an ongoing research project for me. not being a foreign affairs historian specifically, also a learning curve that i'm still climbing. so for those of you that do foreign affairs history, and there are a lot of students out there looking for ideas and things do and the idea of trying to find out what entell generals
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we knew at a time and the kind of impact it had on policy is important. and it is something that is both hard because sources are often hidden. but it is very valuable. because it is that missing dimension. it does help explain things. of course, if you saw the power from our state department historians this morning, you know that they of course have a mandate to try and explain that. but some of these earlier cases, the period before classified materials, were actively sought in foreign relations series. so i think solo is great for that because it provides us a unique eye in what was going on. so i will talk about those things the next couple of minutes, then we will open it up to questions and there are comments as well. so morris was born to be a communist. born in what is now the ukraine in early 1900s. his family moved to chicago around 1911.
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he was there at the founding of the communist party. and a charter member, basically. morris was an activist through the 19020s. went to moscow in the 1930s for training. he became editor of the daily worker in 1945. within two years his health caught up to him. morris had very bad cardiac issues. and basically had to go on bed rest an extended period of time. so through the late 1940s, when their stories of told of espionage in 1930s and 1940s, morris is in fact kind of fallen out of favor in the communist party. the communist party itself add lot of id logical purges over the years.
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and morris was replaced as editor of the daily worker. and it didn't go over well, i'll put it that way. morris really felt abandoned. so morris was kind of on the outs with the party. by early 1950s, things had changed. now, of course there was public debate overs espionage. we had an arrest by 1950. so the idea of spies were out of their minds. when when mccarthy shook his p papers saying we know of so many in the -- and as they said, elizabeth bentley brought with them a wealth of information identifying dozens of people who
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worked with soviet espionage and around the u.s. government. the fbi extensively investigated and the problem is this. the soviets were a couple steps ahead. and they knew igor had walked out of the office and was up in canada. within days, they knew what elizabeth bentley told us. and so when the fbi went looking for evidence of espionage, in those days, you kind of had to catch the person red-handed if you wanted to charge someone in court with spying. when they went looking at elizabeth bentley's allegation, they could say this person knows that person and that person has access to that information and that person is here in that time period. but nobody is contacting each other. nobody is spying. >> they were all told to stop. >> at the sam time, broken into soviet telegrams that had been sent during world war ii.
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this of course eventually comes out as what we know as the vanona today. it provided a wealth of information about soviet espionage about the united states during world war ii. so by 1947, the fbi and nsa predecessor are working closely together. and eventually cia and british and canadians and a lot of others were brought in to exploit some of this information. so we knew a lot about who had been spying at that time. there was access to sensitive information, but we could not prosecute. we caught judith cop lin red-handed spying. employees had access to classified fbi stuff. but for a number of reasons could not successfully prosecute her. the rosenburgs were caught because of the vernona and so
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forth. when joe mccarthy is getting up and calving papers around, intelligence community is dealt with many of the penetrations. and certainly those that were known about. and they were starting to turn more proactively to seeing how are we going to prevent this in the future. and that meant to go more proactively against soviet espionage. pay more attention twho in the soviet diplomatic community might be spying. >> and the united states may not be in a sense, in assistance to the kgb and activity. >> and we went around and interviewed a lot of communists and especially if they just left the party. jack says, you know, i'd be happy to help you out. i'm not happy with the communists. they really shafted my brother. it is my brother who you should
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talk to. he is kind of sick, though. you will have to approach him carefully. so the fbi who is very versed in communist ideology, walk the walk an talk the talk. knows his history. knowis his culture. and in a sense who could appeal to the intellectual side of morris. and over the next couple of years, begins to develop a relationship with him. talking about issues of politics and communist ideology and changes going on. learns of course that morris is very sick. and helps to arrange medical care at the clinic for him. and how do we show that that morris could afford this? and he hasn't really been working much over the last couple of years. and jack's idea was, well, what i'll do is go around and ask for contributions from communist friends. none of them give them anything. but they all think, well, i'm not going to say i didn't give it because i'm sure everybody
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else is giving. so jack was able to kind of finesse the issue that way. so morris is recruited and of course the 1950s were a tumultuous period. and the fbi today change the way they were doing things because of cold war revelations earlier that we talked about. and of course, u.s. was very actively pushing back against the soviet union and policies now, a career or western europe. and the communist party itself of the united states had pulled away from the soviet union. and largely because they had to. and a lot of contacts with official soviets went dark for those people because they knew the fbi would be watching. and so, they needed to get back in to contact direct contact with the soviet union. especially buecause they
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wanted -- they were facing crises. the membership was dwindling after the cold war they lost members. of course, after hitler stalin of '39. they lost members. when crewschef lost members and they weren't the same as they were in the 1930s. so, morris is done working his way back into the party. and he is popular. he is an old time communist, very loyal and hard worker. and he is on the ins with eugene dennis and other leaders ideal logically. he is moving up quickly begin.i. he is moving up quickly begin.o. he is moving up quickly begin. i knew a lot of them in moscow in the 1930s. and so what they do is they work like this.
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he makes contacts through the canadian and he is going over to the soviet union and reintroduce the american party. and say, we still want to work with you. we still are loyal here. if you can help us out with funds, that would be great. so between 1958, 1977, morris goes overseas 55 times on the communist party's behalf. now of course the irony here is that when he reports back, first people he reports are to are the fbi agent who they are working with. then works with leaders of the communist party. so, morris is going overseas. what's his position? effectively he is seen as, in a seps, the secretary of state of the communist party. which the other communist party kind of looks at the cpusa as
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the defacto -- not defacto, but the legitimate government of the united states. when the communist revolution occurs, they will lead the u.s. so more sis going over as their secretary of state. so he is given high level access across the board. he will meet crewschef. he will go over to china, and meat with mau. and japing and castro and other leaders of the communist world. he will come back and tell the fbi what he learned. so fbi is looking on this as a great way to basically figure out what the connections are between these international communist parties. and what role the communist party of the united states may play in the future.
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aep so be it, especially gb intelligence. so morris is going overseas. and at the time, we are talking 1958 now, and at the time, they looking close, and with the annunciations and back and forth ide ide e ideal ojically. and things seem to be going okay. here we will talk a little bit about what intelligence morris brings back and i'd like to talk a little bit about what that means for dissemination around the u.s. intelligence community. so i think i'm going back it re to reading a little bit just because i have the quotes rather than the exposition i've been
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doing with me. so bear with me. the signs of disagreement between china and soviet union would emerge in early 1960s. and of course we finally to, in a sense, that exploitational of those differences with nixons, joining to japan. and i have to sum up quickly. in a sense what solo ends up doing is bringing back a lot of information about it. what does china do? tries to rou the communist party from the united states. he says, look, we have differences from the soviet union. we think you are a lot like us. a small party in a hostile environment. they had their day, they've been changing and they've got issues. we'd be happy to fund you, if you'd like. just tell us what you want. when morris goes back to the
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soviet union, the leaders there say, no, what has china been saying? he really tries to pitch him. so they are looking, you're seeing these signs. and where did they appear? what does it do? morris comes back with the intelligence. the fbi shares it. they send it to the wlous. sends it to the highest level of the state department. eventually to cia. though there is one hoover note, where he says, we're not telling you who solo is. the intelligence is shared. it is not shared with the lower levels. so what it can do is at least provide corroboration. it supports what the cia is saying at this time.
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it supports in time with their sources. and the corroboration is so important and is it going to change the way we do things, no. and of course that is what could happen with solo and what morris ends up doing. so what did we learn? trade craft lessons. one compartmentallization. and so his identity doesn't become a real issue until the 1970s when -- let's see if i can get a picture. and let's see if the fbi goes up to church on capitol hill. and showing morris saying, if you start digging too deeply into things, you will expose our agent. at that point, the cat is getting out of bag and church kept it quiet and tough act on
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some of the investigation into what the fbi what's doing in relation to investigating dr. king because of connections to solo. morris of course is telling us about dr. king's chief advisers who was former communist who had a lot of connectiones with soviet intelligence over the years.s with soviet intelligence over the years. what else? compartmentallization doesn't work. when they get to the level of putting together analysis, it can't effect policy. it can give leaders confidence that what they are getting is important, and possibly true, buzz th because they are getting corroboration from another source. and that's great. but it doesn't help inform some of the wider debate. and finally, can you think about it this way, here is an agency that in the sense was known for the g men who go out and catch gangsters. very intelligent operation that
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provides crucial foreign intelligence. not because it was their primary purpose. morris came out of a domestic concern. is the communist party helping soviet intelligence? but it provided a much greater take of foreign intelligence because we were able to leverage it as such. so you know, in a sense, law enforcement in that sense is not to good intelligence. the two can go side by side. but you've got to be careful. so, i thank you. i'm going to turn it over to katie. i appreciate the time. [ applause ] >> i will just make a few comments about the papers, then i will open it up for discussion. we will lift up the slide and sit up here and have a nice intimate conversation about
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this. not quite so formal. so in exploring the lives of u.s. government informants in mid 20th century, these papers in some ways raise more questions than answers which is what all good inquiry is should do, opening avenues for further research. what we think we knew about whitaker chambers and mortin sorbell isn't always what it appears. with grand jury record and soviet archives and underlining how cases continue to have life in them yet. more than 6 of 0 years after stalin's death in 1953 and how what we know is based on a fragment understanding to borrow from a new documentary about another notorious government character donald rumsfeld. these stories are indeed the unknown known. several of the individuals discussed here cooperating with both fbi and soviet party is
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sometimes simultaneously and their history is murky or individual for years. sorbell refused to admit cooperating with anybody. it could have been easily exposed for all to see at the time yet he managed to keep himself a compelling and sympathetic victim for decades. caught up in the cold war story, these men were associated with entell generals collections, new york state to tokyo from england to china. their stories highlight the relationship to a federal government with a public audience since some agents were well known public figure wloes provide tell-alls of their activity, tell-alls which provided some and some information that is and used their connections to influence a wider audience. moreover the actions of mortin sorbell an writings of wlit ker ch wliter with chambers in their own day, and rhetoric long after the early 1950s as david pointed out. endeed in the post 9/11 world
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their legacies have helped to fuel anti-islamic rhetoric as terrorism replaced the cold war as context for the new security state we live in. while speaking to such large trends, these papers underline as well more intimate details, especially the importance of biography and history. by exploring individual lives we can learn much more about society and often get deepener other approaches allow it. now to look at each paper in turn. jason roberts' paper takes a look at the rosenburg grand jury records released only six years ago. as someone as part of the effort to release these documents i applaud jason's work in mining these papers. these records revealed not only the limited role of ethel o rosenburg and her husband, who never spent a day in jail. there is guilt based on the grand jury dong frmt the problematic and attempts to
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exonerate him on the part of his friends and family to the revealing comments from his co-work isseers is convincing. the government found hawaim gui and sent him to alcatraz for years. there is much in the grand jury records worth studying? this case an example of where the government got it right. it s itself interesting. since it bungled so many other areas of this case. there is a question of how and why the government insistered on keeping the records secret. in doing so washington security agencies per pet rated the myths of men like sorbell and hains in connection with the bauerried cables. for so many people andsome years, sorbell remaining a hero of mccarthyism. i amazingly, ra rather than bask in a glow, for 55 years after the rosenburg's were executed
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sorbell admitted he was a spy. in 2011 he acknowledged more about the details of his work including that long weekend of photo copying with william pearl. he did it for the soviet union, he told a resident here in the county. not to fight naziism. i would like to see our speaker pursue this angle further. including the disbelief associated with the case and what it else us about the cold war conflict. there was another case here in which is meets the eye. that of whitaker chambers and his grandson, david, has don a fine job in showing this his case was much more important than chambers' earlier work in the underground. who would know that fame fours taking some, not as much as exciting, and his
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typewriter, it had a separate far more reaching life than years before. here stretching espionage into the 50s, or i should say now into the 70s, details he revealed, chambers brings us well back into the early 1930s. these are very important in showing us a wide international network which despite foiling by the chinese communist drew on unwitting help from the americans setting up the network to assist mortin sorbell later. there is a large story here that dave sid just telling in the future. i hope they would explore why it is on the hit story which such hits as those with chambers early international intrigue were hiding in plain sight. was chambers careful to leave the early passage out of his story. it says more about his work as a spy and less about someone else giving him information. why did he hietd more complex and interesting stories of the work with soviet communism or
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leave a bleak clue. clearly claim bers is shaken up by the death of julia stewart or later, walter. was he still worried about the soviet secret police turning on him if he provided too much detail and witness? these are some of the questions i hope david will turn to in the future. why chambers with the american espionage stories his defining moment. as we say back in the early 30s, we are pushed forward into the subject of morris. the fbi took on a more active role in generating intelligence. it helps open up the understanding of what we thought we knew for this period. often pictures as dramatic rupture, occasionally by stallin secret speech -- excuse me, crewschief's speech and the anger of true communism and aid
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in the 50s and december cattily around chiels. fox brings up many threads from the fbi discussion and operation from chinese cpusa tufl to the intelligence gathering it self and use and ne flekt by american operatives in the cia and all those facets are revealing. fp f/* frs scholars will want o manner more about the cold war. it tells us something about the party's continued resilience after mccarthyism. what are the goals of soviet union or china wanting to accomplish in the united states through their party connections. for china it simply invited the connection with the u.s. communists but were the soviets interested in using chiels to gather init'll generals for them or on some way the domestic front fox brings up how
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intelligence is youth but this could be explored further. that the fbi pursued the double agent, doubled country approach well beyond what the fbi was supposed to be doing in the area of domestic security as we understand it under lieps what we know about the agency expanding role in the 1950s. they released the counter intelligence program that went after martin luther king, jr., college students and others, another huge skmankmangs of its jurisdiction. they largely used it to intimidate people. what did the agency do with the solo material in today and you have begun to tell us, but we love it learn more. in the aftermath of snowden's revolution of the u.s. government surveillance on america and the government charges that he too was a spy, the workings of the surveillance continue to preoccupy the american public more than ever. this panel's portrayals of earlier agents, spies and informants, provide context to
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examine such present day and just a quick note, veronica wilson was supposed to join us and unfortunately ill has prevented her from joining us today. but her paper, listed in the program, o on julia brown's crusade deserves mention. by the way, miss brown was an informant who also posed as cpusa member. become an act eye communist activist who chiefs visceral, again, martin luther king, jr., she believed we as communist. while in the civil rights era, an off-told story, activists like brown claimed that anyone seeing slums and ghettos with a communist troublemaker and i usually mentioned. and they need to be so we can fully understand the fullness of the story. things again for our panelists and all of you for coming. now i invite our technicians to wlis many the curtain please and vanna white will come up.
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no, we invite you to come up and we will have exciting questions we hope the panel has generated. thank you so much. [ applause ] >> oh, wonderful. >> i was wondering about the spy ring that came to baltimore in 1945 where he worked for the underground recruiting agents from 1945 to 1950.
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he was a friend of agnes smedly and smedly was a mistress. and another face to add is paul willard. do you remember the englishman, head of the press in new york. he warned your grandfather that alexander was being used by the ogru to try to find chambers. and i recently was able to persuade william other lewis who said the official volume of the 20th century first he said oh, chris i can't put this in there and then his assistant told me and wrote me an excited e-mail, i think he put four or five pages in there because paul was close to willie. >> thank you. >> but sang also ties in with the paper on morris child. because he became a huge official. he lives to be 102 years old. i'm willing to bet he meets with morris childs -- you know about it. okay. thank you. >> thank you for your comments.
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>> actually, i'm pretty sure -- i believe that in my readings that it wasn't alexander that he was referring to. because the code names were often bob, carl, my grandfather went by -- another possibility i believe is auto cox and other candidates for that. and i believe someone that went by that name also trailed walter, before he was murdered. >> just history. and an enormous footnote in there pointing out that head of the american oxford university president in the 1930s a soviet agent which they just discovered and then in looking at a
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witness, the description that was very different person aep cover up want froed tekt him. and that raises a question about the book is, you know, how are you deciphering this. you know, in other words, there are places where he is not being straight forward. you know, ranting and other chambers papers an other things you're able to use as key to go through what's left out and what's put into the book. >> yes. there are family papers i've been referring to. and surprisingly the majority of it by far has been now publicly available information. and i'm amazed how much is out there through careful search combinations of words that will pull out unbelievable names. i'm just really beginning to
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sort out people's lives. as katie said, a lot of them are hiding in absolute plain sight and people literally don't fwloe is who. case that seems to come up all the time in u.s. government activities, and the ability and i mean that in the very simple sense of know wlag they did before and actually relevant to what katie is saying as well about snowden and in today's age almost something that's impossible to do now unless perhaps in the wake of the snowden case and sensitive to privacy and try to maintain that. i can't imagine anybody today hiding as my grandfather did, and having been at the daily worker and at new mass's magazine and then weaneding up at "time" magazine. though at the time they weren't publishing by lines but many people knew which articles
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writing and they could have been miffed in today eage that a former communist was writing at "time" magazine. just wouldn't happen today. and he is very careful from the beginning and one of the implications i see on the snowden kiss on the general public is in fact a tendency by many americans then to be as careful as possible in disclosing who they are and what to do for reasons that all of these can and may very well need against him. >> and i think he said in his talk that it is the silence often that speaks louder because you start putting together the chronology based o on the bulk and you see what's missing. and he is not talking about this and why is he in shanghai then? i did my disare tags and she did it for years. and hitler's germfully and does the same thing.
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and in my research i'm looking to depoliticize. i don't care. who said what about whom and which side they were on. and it is hard enough to figure out what they did and who they really were and to me, most importantly why they did things. and i'm not looking to accuse. i'm not looking to justify. and hard to understand why it is really kind of arrogant it think that they could possibly judge somebody based on what information is available. i'm just mostly trying to collect it and understand it myself. >> i listen to your fbi story. it strikes me that much of this is done beyond their jurisdiction in terms of their legislative mandate. and how much scrutiny with the
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fbi intelligence gathering. >> if you think about it, in one sense they didn't have a legislative mandate that time. it was fairly broad and they had been involved in collecting foreign init'll generals during the war. so really, the solo operation and point i'm trying to make sure is that it is not that they went out to gather foreign intelligence, it is that they went out to make sure the communist party was not in a sense an adjunct of the kgb. you know that leadership was actively involved in aiding and abetting soviet intelligence. o how do we prevent that from happening again. let's talk about the intelligence and disrupt them with it. the problem is that takes us well out of any law enforcement authority and obviously a huge problem.
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solo, i think, is a different matter. this wasn't getting involved in things. they th is taking advantage in a seps of an opportunity that we were presented with. to laerp not only what the communist party was doing with the ussr and anything else related to soviet foreign policy. and in a sense acting as an agent within the federal government. that is within the mandate, i think. and that is an opportunity to do a lot more and to learn his intelligence. and that intelligence is shared with the secretary of state, shared with the president, shared with the head of cia. and of course my second point there is that this doesn't get down to the lower levels of analysis in the cia and people trying to understand based on all of the sources they can get, what is going on.
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and with the legitimate concern to keep the operation secret and the more people you tell, the less chance you have of keeping it secret. so that's -- >> if i could jump ... no, but they tied together in some ways -- >> and happening at the same time and coming expansions of -- yeah of a certain right, of concern and all that. i'm just curious though, if, well hansen, was he at the fbi that time and threaten to undermine this operation? >> no. hansen, i believe joined in 1977, '78. started spying a year later until he was arrested. >> are there questions? >> i have one, actually. >> please. >> this is my area. not to raise too big an issue,
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but why did the feds go after the rosenburgs rather than sorbell? and why did they try and why didn't -- very suredly, too big a topic to bring down. >> in part it has to do with what you can prove. at the time. and what the u.s. attorney in the end decides it something, the case that could be made in court. you know, since they went after julius and ethel is roped into it. and you can see in joyce's book, you can see that government was really trying to, in a sense, oou use ethel, to get julius to cop a plea. and it ends tragically. to goes too far there. because they want to -- >> didn't they also have david -- testimony -- >> and this ties into it too
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because we find out about the rosenburgs through vernona. because we find out about foqs. came over as a german. fooqs gives us harry gold who gives us david greenglass who gives us julius rosenburg. and so, it is removed it move from vernona that they don't have to risk exposing that in court. and it was the exposure of verknowna that cost the trial of judith cop lin. both were overturned earlier. they got rosenburgs on the testimony of greenglass. i for get the details but it was a matter of what they could prove in court easily. and what they could prove was 15 years for sorbell but not julius. >> did they discern that what he did was electronic -- or sort
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of -- i don't know, that was probably years -- >> more as well. >> i think what judge coughman said at the time that even though it was impossible or he was not going to, you know, sentence sorbell to the death penalty because there hasn't that strong of evidence of atomic espionage and you have the one person, sorbell's friend, max, the one who testified and said oh, sorbell troid recruit me. so you basically had his testimony and his flight to testimony which looks sketch pooep but there wasn't strong evidence of atomic espionage. so i think that's the main reason, unfortunately, julius and ethel did not set of death penalty. >> at this point, can i ask, has anyone approached the fbi formally and asked for an
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apology for the execution of ethel rosenburg? >> not that i know of. the fbi didn't prosecute the rosenburgs. >> true. >> but an interesting question. prs. >> one note, david, j. edgar hoover recommended against the death penalty. >> i wasn't thrilled that ethel was under a sense willing to face death. >> turning her into mooartyr. and just like irish catholics are inclined to alcohols im, coughman and collin were way too eager to prove that american jews were patriotic and coughman was too gungho for it. and when the reagan administration was twisting his
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arm to retire in the 1980s, he wouldn't step down unless he had the medal of honor, which he didn't deserve. and he was given a medal of hon forzapping the rosenburgs, they would say. >> one more question. overstayed my -- overdue at the microphone here. you've talked about vernona and i want to hear from each of the tleef you. if you could tell us one or two of what you would consider the most important sources that you view in your research to help with the conclusion. >> although they is some issues with the copyrights that google has, google bohas been the most incredible resource. i've been flabbergasted. there are perm permen tagss and
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apparently more than our share in the extended family. incredible what the dijtization revolution brought about. and i, for one, am incredibly grateful to have it available. it is really our primary resource. >> yeah. i would say in terms of secondary sources, for this paper, certainly, on the rosenburg file, and steve ustin, communism, and red spies in america. and then for the primary sources, mortin sorbell's memoir, and just lying, and then -- but you know, saying stuff like, i could just -- and you know, i didn't know he was a
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communist. but there is in between the lines, this hint of, even if i was a spy, so what. russians were a friend. and of course the grand jury transcripts. there is a lot there. beyond you know, mortin sorbell. and a lot of good stuff i would say about william hurl and his perjury. and especially a growthous. you know. so agrowthous. and for perjury if he is convicted. and something i found really useful was the fbi electronic reader that i found myself spending a lot of time going through the electronic reading room. a and reading through sorbell's files. that was useful and then, in regard to the grand jury
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transcripts, if you go to the narrow website, they actually have a list of all of the people that testified and you can just click on that person reading the whole testimony. >> and the file itself is also on our electronic reading room. it was released in last two years. fbi let most everything go. very little rediamondbacks. and it is wonderful as a researcher. and jason struggling with the problem that it is largely material that was back in the '70 a sense '80s a sense '80s . but the file itself is very largely clear. so you can see, all of the reports. and so you see planning for the trip. you see morris going over. you see him come back and the initial reports.
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initial tell grams that go out. and then eugene denner or whoever is the party at the time and he sits down with the agents who work with him there. and they do you know, much longer memos of everything that he saw and said and did and who he met with and what his impressions are of all of this. and that gets disseminated out as well. and at this point we released up to the oh, mid to late 1960s or so. so maybe the first not quite ten years but first eight years of it. and, it is fascinating stuff. you get into you know, him meeting with castro a couple days after john f. kennedy is killed. that's the kind of reporting he was bringing back. >> i think we have one more comment from david. >> i would have to say the number one source, dream source, would be the files in russia. other soviet states i believe
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are lakely likely to have a lot. as a family member, i have rights go in. i've been personally reluctant to go and see that. i think the other thing is to depoliticize the issues and look at them in new light. there is very interesting book came out a few years ago by an drou meyer called the lost spy. and the gentleman involved was actually he and his wife were both known to my grandparents. they disappeared by leaving the country in 1928 and became overseas spies. i believe also reporting to rice. andrew meyer put it together with original information and pursued to unbelievable lengths over i believe a decade. but the book still has holes in terms of stories but it is a
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very credible narrative. i've been in touch with the spy's son and it is an amazing story. it tells you of the effort and openness that meyer purr side the book can really yield tremendous results. that's the isaiah aukins story. and also, forsaken of americans that went into the great depression. amazing stories and they are out there and they are old books. and actually written before the people aren't reading again today. fresh eyes are really kb to have. people not blinded by his case. can really look at stuff anew and may be interested in finding threads that have been absolutely ignored over the years. and if you're interested to go at it.
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>> and g thank you to our panel, to the audience. for your questions. and looking forward to seeing you after the break. this weekend on c-span networks on does night at 9:00 p.m. eastern, former secretary of state collin powell talks about world affairs and sunday evening at 8:00 an q and a, talking about how a marine in vietnam a land mine nearly killed him and changed his life. on books afterwards, atu atul gawande on why he feels medical science should do more for the aging and dying. and just after 7:00 sunday, naomi cline on the impact of climate change. on saturday, on 8:00 eastern on
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